The One Detail That Makes Shoes Look Expensive (Even If They Aren’t)

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Living on a budget, I’m always searching for ways to make my wardrobe appear polished without having to spend a fortune. I’ve discovered the power of adding a statement belt to a dress or jeans, layering pieces of varying textures to create dimension and sporting shoes and accessories in coordinating color palettes. And most recently, I’ve committed to wearing shoes with chains.

I first fell in love with the trend when Bottega Veneta debuted its Stretch sandals for pre-fall 2019. Soon after gracing runways, the distinct, anklet-embellished silhouette found its way into the closets of countless influencers and celebrities. Hardware accents then took root with other designers, too, including Off-White, Oscar de la Renta and Altuzarra in their fall ’20 footwear collections.

While luxury label styles tend to inherently look expensive, chain accents take the effect to the next level. Whether daintily draped or layered with chunky links, the detail essentially acts like jewelry for your feet. And when done in a gold finish, it’s particularly elegant.

The good news is, for those of you, like me, who are also on a budget, there are plenty of chain shoes on the market that offer a similar aesthetic to high-end versions, but won’t cost you an entire month’s rent.

Brands like Schutz and Nine West supply affordably-priced options, including stylish stiletto booties and office-ready pumps for under $200. You’ll also find flat chain shoes from companies like Asos and Kurt Geiger, if low-heeled models are more your speed.

Ahead, shop 11 chic chain shoes that only look pricey.

Steve Madden Telsa Sandals

A go-to warm-weather style this strappy number works just as well with jeans for an afternoon picnic as it does with a dress for date night. A lightly padded footbed boosts comfort.


CREDIT: Courtesy of Zappos

Franco Sarto Caleb Bootie

This all-black boot will effortlessly streamline a monochromatic outfit. We also love that it falls somewhere between an ankle boot and mid-calf style, creating an ultra-sleek profile.

CREDIT: Courtesy of DSW

Senso Slingback Pointed Pumps

Alongside a dainty gold ankle chain, lace-up straps offer another eye-catching element in this sophisticated slingback. The waved vamp adds extra intrigue.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Farfetch

Charles & Keith Leather Chain-Link Mules

Made with genuine leather and color-blocked details, these trendy mules are built for flexible wear and high style.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Charles & Keith

Jeffrey Campbell Recess Chain Platform Loafer

Your favorite chunky loafer silhouette, but elevated with a touch of hardware.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Nordstrom

Kurt Geiger London Polly Pointed Toe Mule

Boxy chain links adorn the straps of this low-heeled mule, complete with a sharp pointed toe and chic squared-off vamp for a cool contrast.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Nordstrom

Nine West Evea Quarter Strap Pump

In addition to its more traditional heel styles, Nine West offers versions with contemporary twists, including this slingback pump boasting a touch of shine. Elastic on the ankle strap also helps you achieve a better fit and avoid nasty rubbing that can cause blisters.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Nordstrom

Asos Design Lise Ballet Flats

The classic and once again buzzy tweed print makes it way onto these Mary Jane-style flats, which swap traditional fabric straps for chain link alternatives. With a look so coveted, it may be hard to believe these are priced at just $36.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Asos

JLO Jennifer Lopez Wandrea Sandal

For some serious bling, try these stiletto sandals featuring a chain detail accented with gemstones.

CREDIT: Courtesy of DSW

Schutz Monah Boot

This glamorous take on the western boot trend is a must-have for spring 2021.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Revolve

Karl Lagerfeld Paris Palmer Combat Boot

Karl Lagerfeld’s chunky combat boot gets some serious edge thanks to double chain details and a croc-embossed finish. Not only chic, the pair also includes a memory foam footbed for ultimate comfort.


CREDIT: Courtesy of Nordstrom

Louise et Cie Everland Loafer

If you prefer a dressier take on the loafer trend, this bold, textured style is a great option. Its octagonal shaped hardware is particularly artful, while supportive leather linings and a sturdy sole make it a practical pick, too.


CREDIT: Courtesy of DSW
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